Failure of Copper-Zinc Alloy Cooling-Tower Hardware
After 14 months of service, cracks were discovered in castings and bolts used to fasten together braces, posts, and other structural members of a cooling tower, where they were subjected to externally applied stresses. The castings were made of copper alloys C86200 and C86300 (manganese bronze). The bolts and nuts were made of copper alloy C46400 (naval brass, uninhibited). The water that was circulated through the tower had high concentrations of oxygen, carbon dioxide, and chloramines. Analysis (visual inspection, bend tests, fractographs, 50x unetched micrographs, 100x micrographs etched with H4OH, and 500x micrographs) supported the conclusions that the castings and bolts failed by SCC caused by the combined effects of dezincification damage and applied stresses. Recommendations included replacing the castings with copper alloy C87200 (cast silicon bronze) castings. Replacement bolts and nuts should be made from copper alloy C65100 or C65500 (wrought silicon bronze).